Okay, in keeping with the rubber stamp theme…

In my FABULOUS book, Your Screenplay Sucks!, I talk a lot about physical writing. One of my main theories on writing is that only your mother and father want to read your stuff. After that, nobody actually WANTS to read it. Especially if it’s work related writing. Like a screenplay, or whatever work you do during the day.

I wrote a list of THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS OF WRITING… words you can take out of your work that will make the writing stronger, automatically, just by removing them. Like “the” and “that.” The list started small and grew. I’m up to twenty five now. I talked to one guy at the L.A. Screenwriters Expo and he said he’d cut 20 pages from his script after reading my book. That was cool!

So, if I get rubber stamps made, and I should, one would say 7 DEADLY SINS!!!

Here’s the list. Tell your friends.

Seven Deadly Sins of Writing… from Your Screenplay Sucks.com!

Using Find (Ctrl F or Apple F) in your computer, chase down these words in any form you find them. Losing them or changing them will strengthen your work.

“Find” spaceisspace should find only the word you’re looking for, not every “is” in your screenplay.

He is grinning… becomes… He grins.

The convicts are singing opera… The convicts sing opera.

Nacho hightails it out of the town… Nacho hightails it out of town.

Ralph can’t tell that she’s French… Ralph can’t tell she’s French.

She laughs. She then looks at Alice… She laughs. She looks at Alice.

Tika walks down the hall… Tika prisses down the hall.

Sitting at the poker table, Doc deals the cards… At the poker table, Doc deals…

The surgeon stands at the operating table and works… At the operating table, the surgeon works…

Cheryl is looking at Stephanie… Cheryl studies Stephanie.

I am just totally exhausted… I am totally exhausted.

of the
Tom sits by the entrance of the mall… Tom sits by the mall entrance…

The tape begins playing… The tape plays.

She starts moving toward the den… She moves toward the den.

Betty is really pretty… Betty, hot as a two dollar pistol, struts in.

The kids sing a very old song… The kids sing a traditional song. (“very” means the following word is weak…)

She turns and looks at him… She looks at him.

the phone
Bonnie hangs up the phone… Bonnie hangs up.

He pours some coffee… He pours coffee.

Kevin, still in paint covered overalls… Kevin, in paint covered overalls.

the room
He puts on a tie before leaving the room… He puts on a tie before leaving.

his face
Nora has an amused expression on her face… Nora is amused.

seems, appears
Tony seems upset… Tony is upset… So, is Tony upset, or just appear to be?

her way
Carol pushes her way inside… Carol pushes inside. (“his way” too!)

They both stare slackjawed at the comet… They stare slackjawed at the comet.

(as on the end of an adverb!) search for lyspace Also search for ly. and ly, as lyspace will not find an adverb at the end of a sentence, etc. Grade school writers go wild over adverbs. You’re past that now. Use them, um, sparingly. If at all.

Change these words in whatever you write and the results will be tighter and more clear. Okay, so it’s twenty five deadly sins. So sue me.


FYI… “priss” as a verb really threw the person who is translating the book into Japanese.

You don’t HAVE to take these words out all the time… duuuh… but you do need to be aware that a lot of the time, you don’t gotta have them.



Filed under Bad Writing, Rewriting, Screenwriting

2 responses to “7 DEADLY SINS

  1. Pingback: Seven Twenty-Five Deadly Sins « subtexter

  2. I love this post. Awesome.

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